Sri Lanka, often known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” is a land of captivating beauty, rich history, and a vibrant culture. With its diverse landscapes, pristine beaches, ancient temples, and lush greenery, it has become an increasingly popular destination for travelers nowadays seeking unique travelling experiences. In this blog, we will take you on a journey to discover the top 10 best places to visit in Sri Lanka in 2023, complete with personal experiences and recommendations to make your trip truly unforgettable.
If you are planning a trip to this beautiful island and wondering what your ideal itinerary should be, you have stumbled upon the right article. Please stick to the end of the article as we share the top 10 best places to visit in Sri Lanka that you should definitely visit.
1. Sigiriya Rock Fortress
One of Sri Lanka’s most iconic landmarks, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, stands majestically as a massive rock formation. As you climb the steps, you will be greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes which is just wow. My personal experience of climbing Sigiriya at sunrise was nothing but surreal magical. The best time to visit is during the dry season from November to April.
Nestled amidst the verdant hills of Sri Lanka, Ella offers a serene escape into nature. The famous Ella Rock hike rewards you with stunning vistas of tea plantations and waterfalls. Do not miss the chance to take the enchanting train ride from Ella to Kandy, passing through beautiful landscapes.
3. Yala National Park
Wildlife enthusiasts simply cannot miss the opportunity to explore Yala National Park. Embarking on a safari here provides the opportunity to spot elusive leopards, elephants, and a myriad of bird species. I was fortunate enough to witness a leopard lazing on a tree branch, a memory that still gives me goosebumps.
4. Galle Fort
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle Fort is a charming blend of colonial architecture and vibrant local culture. Stroll along the cobbled streets, explore boutique shops, and enjoy the ocean views. The annual Galle Literary Festival, held in January, is a cultural highlight.
If you are looking for a relaxing beach getaway, Mirissa is the perfect destination. Its tranquil shores are ideal for sunbathing, while the ocean offers opportunities for whale watching. Setting sail in search of these gentle giants was an awe-inspiring experience that left me humbled by nature’s grandeur.
It is known for the revered Temple of the Tooth; Kandy is a spiritual and cultural hub. It witnesses the captivating rituals performed at the temple and explore the lush Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. The Esala Perahera festival, held in August, is a dazzling procession of dancers, drummers, and elaborately adorned elephants.
If you love to know more about history you should immerse yourself in the history of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. The well-preserved ruins offer a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s past glory. You should try renting a bicycle to explore this archaeological site which allowed me to uncover hidden treasures at my own pace.
8. Nuwara Eliya
Fondly known as “Little England,” Nuwara Eliya’s cool climate and rolling hills create a charming ambiance. Tea lovers will relish visiting a tea plantation and factory, and learning about the intricate process from leaf to cup.
For pristine beaches and underwater wonders, Trincomalee is a paradise for snorkeling and diving. The clear blue waters of Pigeon Island National Park are teeming with vibrant marine life, which offers an unforgettable underwater adventure.
Steeped in ancient history, Anuradhapura is a sacred city filled with ancient stupas and temples. The Sri Maha Bodhi tree, believed that this is the oldest historically documented tree in the world, is a spiritual centrepiece.
Sri Lanka, with its kaleidoscope of experiences, promises a journey of discovery and wonder. Whether you are exploring ancient ruins, basking on pristine beaches, or encountering majestic wildlife, this captivating island offers an array of unforgettable experiences. There is no doubt that Sri Lanka is the best place to visit. The best time to visit Sri Lanka is during the dry season from November to April, ensuring you can make the most of these breathtaking destinations. As you embark on this adventure, you will find yourself immersed in the warmth of Sri Lankan hospitality and the allure of its enchanting landscapes.
Best Ways to Travel Between These Destinations
Traveling between these top 10 best places to visit in Sri Lanka requires a combination of transportation options due to the varying distances and terrain. Here is a breakdown of the best ways to travel between these destinations, which help us a lot while travelling:
- Sigiriya to Ella: The most practical option is to hire a private car or take a taxi. The journey takes around 4-5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a combination of buses and trains, which may take longer but provide a more authentic experience.
- Ella to Yala National Park: Private car hire or taxi is recommended for this journey, taking approximately 3-4 hours. Buses might require multiple transfers and take significantly longer.
- Yala National Park to Galle Fort: Hiring a private car or taxi is the most convenient option, with a travel time of around 3-4 hours. Buses may require multiple changes and could be time-consuming.
- Galle Fort to Mirissa: A short taxi ride or tuk-tuk journey is ideal for this route, taking about 30 minutes.
- Mirissa to Kandy: Traveling by private car or taxi is recommended for this long journey, which takes around 4-5 hours. Buses and trains are available but might take considerably longer.
- Kandy to Polonnaruwa: Private car hire or taxi is the most efficient way, taking approximately 3-4 hours. Buses and trains might be available but could involve transfers and longer travel times.
- Polonnaruwa to Nuwara Eliya: Hiring a private car or taxi is advisable, taking around 4-5 hours. Buses and trains might require multiple transfers and extend the journey time.
- Nuwara Eliya to Trincomalee: This is a longer journey, best covered by private car or taxi, taking around 5-6 hours. Buses and trains are options, but the travel time could be significantly longer.
- Trincomalee to Anuradhapura: Private car hire or taxi is recommended, taking approximately 2-3 hours. Buses might be available but could take longer.
- Anuradhapura to Colombo (for departure): The best option is to hire a private car or taxi for this journey, which takes around 4-5 hours. Buses and trains are alternatives, but they could take longer and may involve transfers.
- Train Journeys: Sri Lanka’s train rides offer scenic views and a unique experience. While some of the above destinations are connected by train, it is important to note that train schedules and comfort levels may vary.
- Local Buses: Local buses are a budget-friendly option, but they might not be the most efficient for long distances or when traveling with luggage. They can offer an authentic local experience but could be crowded and less comfortable.
- Domestic Flights: While not mentioned in the itinerary, Sri Lanka has domestic flights connecting major cities. If you are looking to save time and cover longer distances, consider domestic flights for certain segments of your journey.
- Booking in Advance: For popular routes or during peak tourist seasons, it is advisable to book transportation options in advance to secure your preferred mode of travel.
Remember that the quality of roads and transportation options might vary, so flexibility in your travel plans and a sense of adventure will greatly enhance your experience of exploring these diverse and enchanting Sri Lankan destinations. Immerse yourself in the stunning beauty and cultural richness of this tropical paradise. From the pristine beaches of Mirissa and the historic wonders of Sigiriya to the lush tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, explore the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. Plan your dream getaway today! To know more about it, visit the Sri Lanka Tourism website.